USA –Walmart is expanding further into the field of healthcare, in keeping with the company’s mission to help people save money and live better lives and the retailing giant has announced the opening of five new Walmart Health centers in one southern state of Florida.

The stores will provide both insured and uninsured residents with access to affordable medical, dental, and optometry services conveniently located next door to their neighborhood Walmart supercenters.

The expansion of Florida’s health centers is already underway, with the first Jacksonville location opening this week and four more opening in the Jacksonville, Tampa, and Orlando areas.

These locations join 20 others that have previously been introduced and tested in Georgia, Arkansas, and Illinois.

Since the first in-store pharmacy opened its doors in 1978, Walmart’s health service offerings have come a long way.

And this latest venture has the potential to turn the company into a top player in the healthcare space as well as a go-to for customers who might otherwise only go to the store for groceries and other necessities.

These new health centers expand on what Walmart’s existing care clinics can provide by providing comprehensive services like primary care, X-rays, counseling, flu shots, lab testing, and even fitness and nutrition all under one roof.

In addition, patients can benefit from transparent pricing, extended evening and weekend hours, and telehealth options.

The new Florida locations are notable because they will be the first to use Epic’s comprehensive Electronic Health Records (EHR) platform.

This software consolidates health data into a single portal to provide a unified experience for patients, healthcare providers, and insurance companies.

With 12 Health Corners in California, Walgreens is not far behind. Walgreens’ collaboration with Blue Shield of California in the San Francisco Bay and Los Angeles areas is intended to improve community health, particularly in areas with low health coverage or ‘health deserts.’

Simple in-store care, as well as advice on preventive screenings, chronic care management, and medications, can be provided by health advisers.

Blood pressure checks and HbA1c tests, for example, will be available.

Behind schedule

While the most recent round of Walmart Health openings is a positive step forward, it is a year later than the company’s initial, ambitious schedule.

According to a 2020 Walmart news release, locations in the Sunshine State were originally scheduled to open in 2021, citing the success of earlier health center prototypes and plans to expand accessible care into additional markets.

Over the last two years, however, progress has been slowed as the corporation navigated COVID-19 vaccine distribution, the expansion of automated fulfillment centers, accelerated digital offerings, and finalized a partnership with Epic.

Despite the delay, the company expressed excitement about expanding its healthcare arm into a region where more accessible healthcare services are in high demand.

It has also entered into a lucrative market where it already has a strong presence—Florida currently has the second-highest number of Walmart stores in the country, with 387 locations across the state.

Members enrolled in Blue Shield’s commercial PPO (Preferred Provider Organization) and HMO (Health Maintenance Organization) plans who live within 20 miles of a Walgreens Health Corner location can access both in-person and virtual services via the Health Corner app at no additional cost.

It is part of both Walgreens’ expansion of patient care offerings, which includes local telehealth, and Blue Shield’s health transformation goals.

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